Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I accidentally wrote an essay.

This is a clip from a job application.
The question was: "Describe your experience producing and/or directing live or live-to-tape television productions."
Eventually, I transitioned to answering the question... after the philosophy lecture--

I have directed talk shows, community celebrations, on-location commission meetings and in-house legislative coverage while working for the City and County of San Francisco.

The primary responsibility of SFGTV is to provide live access to government meetings. In-house coverage of city hall meetings generates approximately 30 new hours of programming each week. This coverage must be complete and impartial. Directors do not use dissolves, cutaways, reaction shots or subjective framing that is noticeably different from the coverage given to other speakers. When commissions leave city hall for community meetings, the direction changes slightly; extra cutaway wide shots are inserted at a regular rate to provide the viewer with an understanding of the remote location.

The laissez-faire approach to coverage of official meetings is a conscious choice. The flow of information during the legislative process is a "push" style of information sharing: each person speaks in turn and pushes their information towards their audience. There is not a personal or intimate relationship between the participants. Using an active directing style is inappropriate because it visually suggests nuanced relationships that do not exist.

Events that are sponsored by city departments but are not regular meetings (panels, interviews, seminars) are directed with a more dynamic style, in order to convey the "push-pull" interaction with the group. This includes audience shots, over-the-shoulder two shots, dissolves and on-air camera moves. City departments host these public events to provide a welcoming and inclusionary environment that both informs and entertains the attending audience. The television coverage should have the same effect for the viewing audience.

City-sponsored community celebrations have the most subjective coverage. During speeches and proclamations, the direction is similar to conference coverage. The direction changes to an entertainment style during the performances and includes more dissolves and on-air moves in an attempt to show as much color as possible. This again is to engage the home viewer in the same way that the city department is engaging the live audience.

SFGTV's primary talk show is a weekly political roundtable, shot in a black box studio similar to the Charlie Rose show. The program uses "peaks and valleys": there are scheduled reads from the host that brake the action and frame the topic, followed by argument between guests with opposing viewpoints. The director has to follow the action of the conversation and react to the dynamic of the table.